Let’s face it; in our day and age it’s difficult to maintain good self-esteem. We spend most of our time scrolling through Instagram where we’re faced with beautiful women who appear to spend their days dressing well, working out, and promoting Fit Tea. Their looks are virtually perfect, and the attention they receive does not go unnoticed.
Sure, we know lighting, makeup, and Photoshop play a huge role in the way they look, yet nonetheless, we feel inferior. It’s not just females, either. Unrealistic expectations form in the young men of this generation; ones where they believe these perfect women exist, and even more likely feel inferior if they’re not dating an insta-worthy model. On the flip side, they may themselves feel like they cannot live up to the tan, muscular image promoted in media and feel pressure to go to extreme lengths, such as steroid use, to achieve this body type.
According to an article in Time magazine, a study conducted last year revealed men are just as likely as women to feel dissatisfied with their bodies, and that adolescent boys who are dissatisfied with their body are more likely than girls to self-criticize and feel distress. The same article states that men typically feel worse about their bodies after playing video games with muscular characters. So, throw away those gender roles, where a woman is typically the one imbued with the symptoms of negative body image; it’s 2017 and the line separating gender norms is becoming blurred.
Social media has given birth to a new world, even more ridden then before, with social anxieties based upon how others perceive us. While connecting us more then ever in a global scope, social media is also pulling us apart on an individual scale. We are largely unable to see beyond “body image,” others “perception” of us, and the displeasure arising from directly being able to compare every aspect of our lives with all of our acquaintances on the Internet. We want to present a certain image to the world, and this is a problem. If we’re so concerned with body image, what happens to our “self” image? That is, how we feel about ourselves and how we handle our individual drives and goals.
Our motivation takes a nosedive when we see “perfection” because it seems impossible to ever reach that point. Well, it only seems that way because it’s true. The concept of perfection is a fool’s paradise.
While you should always do your best, you’re setting yourself up for failure when you strive for perfection. There is no way to “master” life. Acknowledge you’re a real person with values and that your feelings, ideas, and goals are all valid and tangible. Go ahead and take care of yourself, set personal goals, but don’t try to be someone else. If you can’t afford new, expensive clothes, it’s ok. If you’re a little short, a little plump, a little scrawny, don’t stress it.
In an Elle article, Supermodel Cara Delevigne is quoted stating “It’s a mental thing...if you hate yourself and your body and the way you look, it just gets worse and worse.” Believe it or not, the model experienced first hand what it was like to have severe body image issues. Her stress became so bad she developed psoriasis, which had to be covered for the runway. Despite success walking alongside girls Kendall Jenner and Gigi Hadid, Delevigne resigned from the fashion industry. The feeling of shallowness and the resulting negative body image weren’t worth it to Delevigne, and she mentioned it didn’t help her grow at all as a person.
Victoria Secret model Erin Heatherton is quoted in the Telegraph saying “I [struggled] with my body image and the pressures to fulfill the demands of perfectionism upon me. I am not perfect."
So, what do instances such as Delevigne and Heatherton tell us about negative body image? No one is immune. There is no such thing as perfection, and those “expected” to be perfect struggle with that unrealistic expectation everyday they walk a runway or pose for a photo.
My advice is thank your lucky stars you’re not a supermodel; love your knobby knees and muffin top. You can rest peacefully knowing your self worth will not deteriorate when you get a few wrinkles or gain a few pounds.
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